Saturday, September 4, 2010

Czech Republic...Last Day of Competition

The US Sub-Junior Team had one last lifter this morning, Preston Turner of Texas.  Preston is a pretty wild looking Texan with long black hair that is normally in his face and of course the girls over here all love it.  Don't tell him though, we don't want it to go to his head!!  :)

Preston was lifting in the 110 kilo or 242lb class and he must win for the Men's Sub-Junior Team to take home the Team Gold.  "There would be no more opportunities for the American team.  We either had to put the competition away by winning this weight class or settle on the silver. 

Squat warm ups were going very well until we put Preston into his squat suit.  The suit was so tight that he could not reach the proper depth at the weight we had opened with.  Instead of taking a chance of failure by increasing the opening weight on the bar, we chose to put Preston into a suit that fit a little looser...Preston hit his first two squats just like he was meant to and then we changed him into his tight suit and called for a new World Record...335.5 kilos (739.6lbs).  Preston buried the weight and finished the lift to 3 white lights.  At the end of the squat session Preston had a .5kilo lead on his nearest comptetitor, Konstantin Ugarov, the Russian.  You already knew there would be a Russian involved in this, didn't you? 

So we do the only thing that made sense, we open with a new World Record bench to go with the squat.  Preston missed his opener by bobbling the weight on the way up, but a little adjustment to his bench shirt and the next attempt went up easily.  During the bench session the Russian would not complete a lift and would be eliminated from the competition. 

This did not mean Preston could let up on his lifting, as he had a Slovakian, Robert Valach, that could still put Team USA in the silver medal position if he won....Although the Slovakian had a better pull than Preston, he was not able to make up the lead that Preston had created in the bench press. 

Preston would go on to finish in 1st place and finalize the USA team's gold medal position.  Team USA had managed to hold off the Russians this year and put a gold cup on the shelf!!!  This would be the first gold position for the American Boy's team in the last few years...and with the looks of the boys coming back possibly next year, it won't be our last.

USA Boys - 66 points
Russia -   60 points
Ukraine - 44 points
Japan - 39 points
Poland - 34 points

There were 23 Boys teams involved in this year's championships, we are very proud of our kids and how they performed on and off of the platform.  USA should be proud of our young people that made this trip...all handled themselfves very well.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Czech Republic, Day 5...The Turning Point!?

Today's lifting was excellent by our boys who competed in the 82.5 and 90 kilo classes.  Jesse Norris, Zach Garza and Ian Bell.  And our last 3 girls, Alexis Contreras, Natalie Luna and Becky Cook.

The USA really needed wins in these 2 classes if we were going to have any chance at all at taking the Team Gold.  The girls had lost the chance for Gold yesterday when we kept coming up just a deadlift short almost every time.  The girls today performed very well with Alex finishing with an 8 for 9 day and a Silver Medal overall.  The Russian girl who took the overall gold had a perfect day on the platform making all 9 of her attempts.  This is a rare occassion at the World Championships where judging is so very strict and sometimes political.

In the 90+ class it was all the 2 American girls going at it.  None of the other lifters in the class ever stood a chance against Natalie and Becky.  All of the coaches agreed that the number 1 goal was to ensure the the US finished 1st and 2nd no matter which girl was first, as long a the two were at the top of the podium at the end of the session.  Natalie and Becky fought each other all the way through the session with Natalie taking the squat portion and Becky taking the Bench Press portion, so it would come down to deadlifts and the two of them would end up pulling the exact same weight in the end, leaving Natalie on top by 12 kilos overall.  This was a fun class to watch as both of them performed very well and Natalie finished with a new World Record in the Squat.

Our boys performed excellently as well....Zach Garza was a last minute move to this weight division from the 75 kilo class because a Ukraine lifter had moved down to his weight class trying to get away from Jesse Norris.  We didn't know how great this would be for Zach until the very end of the session.  Jesse would end up winning the class, but in the deadlift portion of the session the Russian, who was in 2nd place at the beginning of deadlifts pulled a hamstring during his last warmups and after the deadline for opening weight changes, which means he had to open with what he had originally planned.  The hamstring pull would not allow the Russian to qualify in the deadlift which opened up 3rd place for Garza to slide right into.  Zach had performed very well up to that point finishing 6 for 9 in lifts and posting a 642.5 kilo (1416lb) total.  Who says things can't happen for the USA Team from time to time.... :)

Ian Bell would own the 90 kilo class from the start by posting a 300 kilo squat on his 2nd attempt and he would never look back.  Ian would drop a few kilos in the bench press, but everyone knows he is a great puller.  Ian would open his deadlifts at a number that would award this class to the Americans and in the end he would just miss a new World Record deadlift.

At this point the American Boys Team had done just enough to stay close to the Russian Team so that on the last day of competition we would have to go head to head with the Russian lifter whether or not he lifted in the 110 kilo class or the 125 kilo class.  We knew that after today if we did our part we would have 2 wins and the Russian Team would have 1 in the 100 kilo class. 

Does anyone really know where Estonia is?  Well Estonia is a small country that was one of the break aways when the old Russia became the new Russia....and guess what?  They do a little powerlifting down there.  Actually they do quite a bit and usually when they show up in a weight class they tend to perform very well.  The Russian Team was not ready for Raus Alex-Edvard, from Estonia.  He would, without really trying put the US in the best position we could be in for tomorrow's finish, Team wise.  He would win the 100 kilo class which would only allow the Russian Team to score 9 points instead of 12.  With that, the last American to lift tomorrow,Preston Turner, will have to win his weight class for America to take the Team Gold!

Stay Tuned!!!!!!!!!

Current Team Scores:  Top 5 Teams Shown
Girls are Final...
Girls - Russia 72                                                     Boys - USA 62
           USA 60                                                                 Russia 57
           Ukraine 53                                                            Ukraine 36
            Japan 32                                                               Finland 33
            Hungary 23                                                           Japan 32

Tomorrow Finally Comes....What a GREAT DAY!!

As a follow up to yesterday's "tomorrow" posting....did I really just write that?  Anyway, woke up early this morning, say about 2:45am to find Jesse wandering around the room, digging in some protein bars and drinking some water...he was having just a little trouble sleeping.  No worries I told him, try to get some sleep.  He told me later in the day he finally got to sleep around 4 am and was able to sleep until about 9:30.


While he was finally sleeping later in the morning, Kenzie had already started warming up, getting ready for her turn with the iron.  She was very relaxed and for once she was not sick!! :)  She got herself ready and hit all of her practice lifts before moving to the platform.  We had worked out our goals for Kenzie earlier in the year as I had said in yesterday's posting...

Squat over 500lbs, Deadlift over 400lbs, Total over 1100lbs and get on the podium overall.  If she could accomplish this in her first Juniors level meet we would be quite happy.  Her trip would be successful.  Well Kenzie didn't have the perfect meet, but she did manage a 5 for 9 performance with a 230 kilo (507lb) squat which tied for the Russian for best squat and she pulled a new personal record 185 kilo (407.8lb) deadlift, which, I never thought I would see the day, but she took Bronze in the deadlift.  We were both dissapointed in her benchpress on this day, but she managed enough to push her overall total to 502.5 kilos (1107.8lbs) and this total got her to the podium in 3rd place overall.

I could not have planned a more perfect ending for her on this trip except maybe a 9 for 9 day on her lifts.  She planned her goals, she worked very hard over the last 6 months, got herself in position to be here and then made it all happen.  I am really proud of what she accomplished.


Jesse started this trip with a few goals that we had worked on, but Jesse has had so much success in this sport this year we kept having to modify our goals on the fly.  Seemed like everytime we would set a goal he would achieve it and it was time to set it higher.

One of Jesse's major goals on this trip was to take home the overall Gold medal.  Since his performance in Brazil last September, placing 2nd in the world just didn't seem to set well with Jesse.  Now for most of us placing 2nd at the state level in anything would probably and should be a great achievement, but Jesse, in this sport proved to himself last year that he could lift with the best 18year olds in the world...and last year he had just turned 16.

Of course he wanted to set new personal records in all 3 lifts and we expected him to reset his current World Record in the squat, but he also hoped to be able to pull a big deadlift over here and put his name beside that World Record as well.  I have to say Jesse's entire demeanor was totally different than last year.  He spent much more time in his hotel room, staying fresh, reading, he even brought a variety of American foods to have so he didn't have to just eat Czech food.  He participated with the other team members and watched his share of events, but he was in bed everyday trying to get his rest...and he wasn't very happy when his flight of lifting got moved to Friday due to the number of lifters that had entered.  Jesse was focused on what he had come here for...a Gold Medal.

Jesse looked very relaxed in the warmup area and a number of foreign lifters and their coaches had come to watch him warm up and compete.  Everyone knew who he was and except for those in his weight class, everyone was anticipating his performance, especially his squats.

Now Jesse had a great day of lifting today and the scorebook shows he went 7 for 9 on his lifts.  His opening squat of 310 kilos (683 lbs) ended up being the best squat of the session, even including the 90 kilo lifters that followed his class.  Only 1 lifter in the 100 kilo class ( the winner) squatted more that Jesse and he only bested Jesse's opening attempt by 5 kilos.  But on Jesse's second attempt I chose to take him to a new World Record squat 325 kilos (716.5lbs).  This would have increased his current world record by over 10lbs.  Two of the 3 judges red lighted him for not going deep enough, I didn't necessarily agree with the call, but I can live with that one.  So we took the same weight again on his 3rd attempt.  This time they called him for carrying the bar too low on his back during the lift.  We glanced to the head table for support, but it was clear that they were not going to overturn the judges decision.  Of course they hadn't overturned any decision for an American lifter at this world championship, so nothing new.  This call to me was very bush league, as we would say in the good ole U S of A.  A great way of saying, "Take that you American Brat"  or if this was a Seinfeld episode, "NO SQUAT FOR YOU!"  Jesse carries the bar exactly the same evertime he squats, if the bar had been too low, why wasn't it called on the 1st or 2nd I said, totally Bush League!

The speed at which Jesse squats 716lbs is incredible, even on his 3rd attempt Jesse completed the lift faster than a lot of lifters complete their opening attempts.  The crowd was stunned, the other team coaches were stunned and the Russians immediately started huddling to discuss Jesse's narrow stance and his speed under the bar.  I guarantee they will continue to follow Jesse for years to come if he continues to lift in this sport. 

Jesse would go on to go 6 for 6 in the rest of his lifts set a new personal record in the bench press and break the current World Record in the Deadlift with a 301.5 kilo (664.6lb) pull on his last attempt.  This pull would also have Jesse owning the overall Total record as well with a 784 kilo or 1728lb total.  Remember when I had said earlier that we were constantly having to update Jesse's goals...This morning Jesse had told me he really wanted to break the 780 kilo mark today.  Oh yeah and after the opening round of deadlifts Jesse's nearest competitor was over 42 kilos behind and was not going to come close to catching him.  The second place finisher, a Canadian, ended with a 692.5 total. (1526.7 lbs) almost 100 lbs behind Jesse.  He accomplished his biggest goal...the 2010 World Championship!!!

I love these 2 kids and what they do and how the represent our state, our country and themselves.  All of the coaches constantly comment on their positive attitudes and their preparedness.  That we can all be proud of.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Idaho Lifters Day.....tomorrow

As I wrap this up tonight along with checking emails from work I also worked on the opening attempts and lifting strategy for my 2 lifters, Kenzie Hower, a 19 year old 90 kilo Junior lifter and Jesse Norris, a 17 year old 82.5 kilo lifter on the Sub-Junior team.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I have to say that I am very proud of both of them for being here.  Most of you that might read this have no idea (except you parents) of what these 2 kids have done over the past year to prepare for both of them started this journey when we caught our plane home last year from Brazil after the 2009 Championships.  The 3 of us talked on the way home about what each needed to do to prepare themselves for tomorrow.

A week later we were in the gym writing out new goals and plans to achieve them so that tomorrow could happen.  Kenzie started college, Jesse started his junior year in high school and of course during the process life got in the way many times, but it never diminished the drive they have had to maintain to show up to the weight room 3-4 days a week, go to work, go to school, back in the weight room, go to work, save money, do another fundraiser, start a new lifting cycle, go to a meet just so each of them could qualify to be here...and when they arrived at those meets to lift, they had to win.  In Idaho we only get a couple of opportunities for powerlifting meets.  Usually one state meet and then the national events.  So basically Kenzie and Jesse have 1 or 2 opportunities to get their chance at tomorrow.  They always have to be their best on those days.

I am not taking anything away from the other lifters on this American team and yes I know all of the kids here have had to do special things to be here as well, that's what makes this trip each year so worth it for us coaches....we live with these kids in the weight room and watch them give up other things, other fun, to get back to this event.

But this post is for my 2 kids, the 2 kids that I live with almost each and every Saturday.  (just ask my wife :))The 2 kids that I either email or facebook or chat or text with multiple times each week to make sure they are still focused on tomorrow.  And they have been; for 365 days Kenzie and Jesse have been focused on tomorrow.  Both have grown tremendously as lifters and ambassadors for the USA and as individuals.  I can't say enough how ready each of them are for tomorrow.

If I do my job right tomorrow both of them will do what they need to do to reach the goals we set for this event over 6 months ago.  The 3 of us know what the other needs to do to successfully accomplish the end  of this year's journey.

 Being here in the Czech Republic is not the end, being here was expected....tomorrow is the end of this journey for these 2 athletes, for these 2 students of this sport, for these 2 kids of mine and I am so glad to be here with them to take part in another small piece of their journey and I want to thank you parents that allow me to share this moment with your kids.  :)

Czech Republic Day 4

We could not have asked more of our two girls that lifted today.  Shantel Noel of Texas and Stacie Pomrening of Wisconsin both lifted great and both finished the last lift of their session with the opportunity of winning their weight class and taking overall gold medals.

Shantel Noel lifted in the 75kg class and after struggling a little in the warm up area with her squats hit the platform and went 3 for 3.  The last 2  squats looked to be barnburners, but she held on and finished both.  After squats she was sitting a solid second place behind Elena Ovcharova, a Russian girl that we were confident we could outlast in this weight class.

Again Shantel struggled in the warm up area, but this time with the bench press.  We lowered her opening attempt to ensure she didn't miss, but this would end up dropping our overall total behind the Russian girl to 15kilos.  Shantel felt strongly about her deadlift so we went into the deadlift portion of the meet still feeling like we could make up the difference.  Shantel opened with the exact same opener as the Russian and Ovcharova would pull right with us up until the final pull.   We waited to see what Ovcharova put on the bar for her final attempt and then we would just have to pull 2.5kilos more since Shantel was heavier in body weight.

Ovcharova ended up going 3 for 3 in the deads and finished with a 160kilo pull which put her total at 450 kilos...Shantel had to pull a 177.5 kilo deadlift if she was going to get this victory.  With the entire venue cheering her on Shantel grabbed the bar and was able to pull it just above her knees before gravity became a little too resistant.  Shantel ended up in 2nd place behind the Russian, but the best ending to this weight class was the reaction of the Japanese team.

You see, when Shantel missed her final pull of 177.5 kilos, that meant Nakayma Mai would take the gold medal in the deadlift with 162.5kilos to her credit and the Japanese girls don't win that often.  The entire girls section of the Japanese team decended on Mai and they all hugged and cried to the point of sobbing.  It was just one of those moments over here that remind me why I enjoy this so much.

Stacie on the other hand in the 82.5 kilo class just had one of the most frustrating days of lifting a lifter could have.  She would not get a squat passed until her final attempt which would still end up being the 2nd highest squat and then even though she pressed the weight she would only get 1 bench press passed as well.  Going into the deadlifts Stacie was trailing Ekaterina Tsigankova (another Russian) by 22.5 kilos. 

Stacie opened her deadlifts 15 kilos higher than the Russian so after 1st pulls we trailed by 7.5 kilos.  We decided Stacie would rest her back, pass her 2nd attempt and wait to see where Ekaterina would finish.  We would just have to pull more.  Of course we were heavier in bodyweight again so what ever she pulled Stacie would have to pull enough to pass her by 2.5kilos.

Katerina would get here 2nd deadlift, but missed her 3rd and would add another 7.5 kilos onto her lead.  Stacie would need to pull a 182.5 kilo (402.5lb) deadlift to overtake the Russian.......Well the gravity gods that had been pestering our lifters today decided they needed a little more work.  The weight shot off of the floor but Stacie would not be able to lock it out and we would take second again to another Russian lifter.  Stacie's opening lift would earn her a gold in the deadlift and Stacie would take silver medals in both of the other lifts.  Stacie finished with 3 passed lifts and in the end she was pulling for a gold medal. It's not too often a lifter gets an opportunity like that with only 3 made attempts.  I know if is a big word, but just if she could have gotten that first squat passed, the whole session would have been totally different...maybe next year.

None of our boys lifted today so scoring on the boys side of the team competition would remain the same.  The girl's attempt at team gold would end today.  We needed a win in both weight classes today to have a chance of earning the gold team trophy.  With 2 weight classes left the girls Sub-Junior team scoring looks like this:

Russia - a perfect 72 points
USA - 56 points
Ukraine - 53 points
Japan - 32 points

The Ukraine and Japan do not have any more girls lifting tomorrow so they cannot catch the USA for Team Silver, but we have 3 more girls that will be working hard tomorrow morning to take home their own gold medals and in the 90+ kilo class the USA has 2 girls that we hope will be scratching and fighting each other for that gold medal.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Czech Republic Day 3 Wednesday

Well it's after midnight  and hear I am at the computer again.  Today we only had 2 lifters so it was a relatively easy day, as coaching goes over here.

We started with our first lifter, Beverly Crawford, she is only 1 of the 2 lifters that aren't from either Wisconsin or Texas.  Beverly lifts in the 148lb class and to make it even a little easier her own coach was able to make the trip along with her mother. 

Have I said anything yet about struggling in the squats?  Oh, yeah...just about every post.  Well Beverly held true to form for the Americans and was able to complete her opening attempt.  The next two squats were red lighted for lack of depth.  Nice though that Beverly took pity on the poor tired coaching staff who had worked so hard the day before and posted 3 very nice benchpresses and had now finished 2nd in both disciplines...and Beverly was a puller, her best lift was still to come, this might just be a chance at hear our anthem again! 

Well remember that only 1 squat business...that came back to haunt her and even though she pulled great...a 162.5kilo (358lb) deadlift for a gold medal in the deadlift, it was still not enough to beat out Ekaterina Kotova....Name sound familiar?  Well it all know who she is.....a Russian!  So you know what that means!  Yep.  Boom, Russian National Anthem....

Not again, I had hoped I could actually get a new melody in my head today...I had even started singing B-I-N-G-O just in an effort to eliminate that damned anthem, and now here I was again along with the rest of the staff standing for the Russian National Anthem.  Things just have to get better!

Our other lifter today was Charles McDonald...we have moved Zach Garza to the 82.5kilo class in a effort to get him a better chance at making the podium, hopefully it works as one of the top Ukrainians had also made a move out of that class to the 75kilo class to get away from our American, Jesse Norris.  This may work very well.  But that leaves Charles(Chaz) to go against 2 Ukraines and a Russian by himself. 

Chaz would squat very well, going 3 for 3, unusual for this team so far...but this would set him up and keep him within the sights of the newly planted Ukraine and of course the Russian.  We knew Chaz would probably fall back a little as bench is not necessarily his best lift, but the question of the day would be, could he stay close enough to the top 2 lifters to make a play for the top spot on the podium.

Well pull as he may, and he did, Chaz did finish on top of the podium for the deadlift, but would not be able to pull enough to better his 3rd place position overall.  And of course you all know what that means if you have bean reading any of this mess I have been putting out here...Boom! Ukraine national ya didn't I?!

Well it's late, I have to get my kicks somehow! :)

By the way, I did get to travel outside of the walls of the hotel today with my 2 Idaho lifters and we visited a very small little Czech Italian Restaurant...yes, I did write that.  They served a variety of pizzas and spaghetti and other Italian dishes, even breakfast items.  The 3 of us did invite Nick Laznovsky our 148lb lifter to tag along and lucky for us he did.  While we all munched down our Salmon/Spinach pizza and our Artichoke/Spinach pizza and Kenzie's pick the Popeye the Sailor pizza...Spinach, Bacon, Chicken and fried egg.....awesome pizza by the way, went back later with the coaching staff and ate more of this kind.  Great flavor!!!

Well anyway, I regressed there for a minute...while we were eating our pizzas Nick decides to order chocolate filled pancakes.  Well, whatever Nick, you can order a breakfast if you like.  That's okay.  So rich even this 18 year old could not get more that one of the 3 rolled very thin pancakes down.  And to top it all off we awarded Nick with the "Quote of the Week" so far:

"I really can't believe we flew across the ocean and we are really here!"

I know this doesn't sound like much, but at the time had we of all just taken a drink it would have been coming out of our was classic Nick!

I also have a feeling the waitress, although she had to manage with our lack of local language skills, she didn't mind the tips...and then when I brought the coaching staff back in an hour before they were supposed to close and with 5 people we ordered 10 pizzas, all different of course, although frustrated with us again, she liked those tips as well... and invited us back :)

Almost forgot current team scores:

Girls - Russia 65 points                                          Boys - Russia 54 points
           Ukraine 53 points                                                  USA 50 points
           USA 45 points                                                       Ukraine 28 points
           Japan 26 points                                                      Japan 18 points
           Poland 14 points                                                    Poland 17 points
                                                                                         France 12 points (had to give them their credit)

Keep in mind the scoring only counts the top 6 finishes of each team so thing could change drastically over the next few days.  Keep checking back! Good night.

Czech Republic Day 2 Tuesday

Let me start by apologizing for not getting this post up yesterday ended up being a longer than usual day and the internet was very sketchy last night when I got to my room....

You know how you get a song stuck in your head after you have heard it let's say 4 or 5 times in the same day...well I have one of those after today.  And it's one of those songs that I really don't necessarily want to have floating around that grey matter I call a brain...The Russian National Athem!  Man I am just tired of hearing that song, it has a pretty nice melody and the beat isn't too bad, but everytime I hear it it just reminds me that they have scored a few more points.

Today wasn't necessarily a bad day for the American Sub-Junior Team, it just wasn't what we had scripted out...of course scripts don't always tell the story.  We had our 123 and 132 lb girls on the platform and our 132 and 148lb boys.  Katie Durham from Texas was scripted to take this weight class...remember from one of my earlier blog sessions, she was deliberately moved up to this weight class to compete head to head with two very competitive Russian girls.  Katie only managed to get one of her squats passed by the judges, managed two benches and then proceded to scare the crap out of all of the American coaches when she missed not only her opening deadlift attempt by not budging it off of the floor, but then also missed her second attempt when she fell down with the weight.  At this point she has 3rd place in the squat, 3rd place in the bench and we knew if we raised her deadlift by 2.5 kilos she could get the silver medal in the deadlift.  The Ukrainian girl behind her would not be able to catch her, unless of course she misses again and bombs.  As a staff we increased the weight 2.5 kilos without telling Katie of course and gave some of our best motivational advice and turned her loose on the platform.  What seemed to be 10 minutes later she successfully completed her last deadlift, stayed in the meet and placed 3rd overall...Boom, Russian National Anthem.

Kelsey King, another Texas girl had also been moved up a weight class and was competing in the 132lb class.  We had anticipated the move would actually be very beneficial for Kelsey and might produce her an appearance on the podium. Kelsey, like Katie, would struggle all day finishing only 4 lifts out of the nine, but we did mange to get her on the podium for a bronze medal in the squat.  Kelsey finished 4th overall which was very repectable for her first trip to the World Championships.  She responded very well all day to our coaching advice and was wonderful to work with.  Kelsey now understands the pressures and the judging at the international level.  Guess what?  Boom, Russian National Athem!

Sir Isaac Nunez got the US started on the boy's side today in the 132lb class.  After missing his first squat he came back to finish very well with the silver medal in the squat and only 15kilos behind one of the best Russian Sub-Juniors we will compete against, Alexander Molin.  We knew Sir Isaac needed to gain some ground in the bench and we all expected him to finish well in the bench...but a World Record!!  Oh YA! Nunez posted a 163kilo (359.5lbs for you Americans reading this), 2.7 times his body weight, bench press!  After benches Sir Isaac would move into the deadlifts with a 3 kilo lead over the Russian.  We could almost hear the US national anthem playing, but we also knew Molin was a great deadlifter.  Nunez still had some work to do.  Nunez would go 2 for 3 in the deads and finish with a 603kilo total, but would it be enough to hold off Molin?  Weeelllllll, not quite.  Molin went 8 for 9 and got all 3 of his deadlifts to gain back the 15 kilo lead he had after the squats to take the gold guessed it, Boom, Russian National Athem!!!

Well we still had 2 guys in the 148lb class later that evening.  Of course they got started after 8:30pm due to some changes in the scheduling for the Junior girls sessions, so we knew we were in for a very late night, but we had very high confidence in both Nick Laznovsky and Jason Rupnow and actually hope that both would make the podium before they turned the lights out in the ballroom.  Nick started with a bang and took the gold in the squat, but struggled with a bronze in the benchpress which of course was won by ......a Russian lifter, Anton Polyakov.  Crap, here we go again.  Jason was only able to finish one squat, and then followed that up with 3 straight misses in the bench, which is his better, if not best lift.  he pushed the weight, just received 1 too many red lights for technical problems with the lifts.  He was devistated along with the coaches who had anticipated a good meet for him.  So now it was up to Nick to finish this alone and prevent us from listening to that same tune we had been hearing all day.  Nick went on to go 2 for 3 in the deads, barely missing a 250kilo(551lb) final deadlift that left him in 2nd guessed it Boom, Russian natio......wait a minute that's not the Russian national anthem......Who invited the French!!!  And who would actually be glad they showed up to fight??? :)  They haven't done that since....well I don't know that they have ever done that!  But they did here and took a nice 12 points away from the Russians, actually Polyakov ended up 4th so belive it or not the American team needed help and the French stepped up and we ended the evening with all of the French powerlifting team singing their country's national anthem very loud and very proud...had I known the words, I would have sung along as well!